Arsene Wenger, the FC meets Arsenal FC. What do you expect from the friendly in Cologne?
Arsène Wenger: “It will of course be a very emotional game for the fans and Lukas Podolski. Lukas has a strong connection with FC Cologne, he played there since he was ten years old, and has given a lot for the team. Now he is returning to his home, for his first game as an Arsenal player and I am sure, that he will be will get a fantastic reception. It is an important match for our entire team, because it is our last match before the start of the Premier League season on the 18th of August 2012. We want to complete our preparations in Cologne with a strong performance.
What kind of impression do you have of Lukas Podolski?
Wenger: “We had decided to let Lukas work on his fitness in London along with some other players, while we went on our Asia-Tour for the club, this is why I only had one week to work with him. But even in this short time has he shown his qualities, which we know of him and were the reason why we signed him – he has a very intelligent playstyle. He is technically strong, very versatile, can create and score goals. He is left-footed and that is very significant.
Last season, Arsenal FC finished in third place of the Premier League and qualified for the Champions League. With what aims are you going into the new season?
Wenger: “We are very ambitious and are working very hard to prepare the team for the new season the best way possible. It is our priority once again to fight for the championship and Champions League and to finish the season as successfull as possible. What this means in the end, we have to wait and see. The championship will have strong teams again that are also fighting to win. We want to play the games in the way that we are used to, and I believe we are able to measure up with the best. With this same attitude we will also play in the Champions League.
You have been manager at Arsenal FC for almost 16 years, which is a very long time. What is your recipe for success in you managing career?
Wenger: “We have been present in the Champions League for 15 years and I think this shows that our philosophy works. I will not say that this is all thanks to me, but I think it pays that we always have shown a lot of engagement and continuity and have always been loyal to the way we play football. In my job, however, one is always dependent on the future and not the past. Maybe one day I will look back into the past and think that I could have done this or that better, but at the moment I am completely focused on the new season.
The FC Cologne will start the new season in the 2. Bundesliga with a very young team. What importance does youth development have at Arsenal FC?
Wenger: “The Arsenal Academy is absolutely indispensable for our club. If you look at our squad, you can see that we continue to do what distinguishes us: to develop young players and to give them a chance at the top level. We have some young players that already have experience, for example Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is just 18 years old. Jack Wilshere is 20, Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin are both 21. There are more talents, who we believe can make the breakthrough this season. We have took Nico Yennaris and Serge Gnabry to Cologne and in Asia we had Chuks Aneke and Benik Afobe, who have shown their quality, Ryo Miyaichi just the same. Beyond that, we have a group of players at the club that are 16 or 17 years old, that we haven’t involved in the preparations yet, but whom we surely will see in the new season. Youth development is very important for us.”
Arsenal FC was in Cologne last season for a friendly as well. What connects you to FC Cologne?
Wenger: “Last year we had a good match in Cologne. The match had a high tempo and was a good test for our players. I am confident that this year we will have the same positive experience. The FC has a great history and is known for its strong fanbase. There is always a good atmosphere in the RheinEnergieStadion. We are looking forward to the match.”Share